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Day 203 – Thru the Bible
Today we start Nehemiah.
Video – Read Scripture: Ezra-Nehemiah
Available on YouTube – here.
Nehemiah 1 – As the book of Ezra closed, so Nehemiah opens: with the prayer of a godly intercessor. Nehemiah is the last in a progression of Old Testament leaders who in their faithfulness and their imperfection teach us to depend on God’s faithfulness, and who train us to look ahead to the true Intercessor who will represent God’s people perfectly before His Father.
Nehemiah knows God’s faithfulness in preserving a remnant and restoring them to Jerusalem, according to His promises. Yearning for his people, hearing of their city’s broken down wall, Nehemiah leads the third group of returning exiles 13 years after Ezra’s return. Before his action comes his prayer, which acknowledges a need for more than the physical protection of walls. His people need the faithful protection of their God.
Here and throughout the book, Nehemiah shows us how to pray: with reverence for such a great and awesome God, knowledge of God’s Word, along with confession of disobedience to that Word and requests for mercy. His prayer addresses a covenant-keeping God of steadfast love (see Exodus 34:6; Deuteronomy 7:9), a God who has “redeemed” His people. Nehemiah is referring to God’s redemption of the Israelites from Egypt, but that rescue pictures the greater One to come, not through the blood of a sacrificed lamb but through the death and resurrection of Jesus, “our Passover lamb” (1 Corinthians 5:7). The word “servant” emphasizes this people’s identity as belonging to this God, not to the earthly king Nehemiah serves. Addressing the Lord, Nehemiah calls the exiles “your people”; they were chosen by God to receive His promises of blessing and to bear the seed of that blessing for all the peoples of the earth (Genesis 12:1–3).
Knowing you are already blessed in Jesus, how does that free you to respond to God and others in love?
Nehemiah 2 – Nehemiah shows us how grace and works go together. The sovereign “God of heaven” graciously directs events for His redemptive purposes. As He did for Joseph, Daniel, and Esther, He brings favor with kings: Artaxerxes grants Nehemiah’s requests because of God’s hand at work (see Proverbs 21:1). Knowing God’s grace personally (as the first-person narrative demonstrates), Nehemiah responds with wholehearted service: praying continually, preparing carefully, rousing himself for his nighttime inspection, and wisely articulating his plan of action—even when surrounded by the threats and jeers of hostile enemies. Nehemiah’s summary: God makes us prosper, and we His servants arise and build. This is the pattern of the gospel: God delivers; we gratefully respond. God acts in marvelous mercy, and we respond accordingly out of hearts transformed by grace.
Constant focus on the city of Jerusalem highlights this place where God displayed His grace, dwelling with His people and making a way, through the temple sacrifices, for them to worship and live as His people. All this grace and favor prepared the way for God’s greatest gift, His Son, “from [whose] fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16)—and to whom we respond by rising up and serving.
How does your transformer heart look to serve God by serving those around you?
Nehemiah 3 – What a picture of God’s people building together! The many details create a vivid illustration that serves as a precursor of the apostle Paul’s teaching that all the members of the body are necessary and must work as one (1 Corinthians 12:12–26). Here too is enacted Paul’s admonition to “count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3)—a concept not embraced by the Tekoite nobles.
All such principles find their meaning in the promised Seed who came from these workers, the One who unifies a people from many nations, who humbled Himself as a servant of all, even unto death: Jesus. In short, in God’s wise providence Jerusalem and its people quietly prepared the way for a new building project, a spiritual one that brought all God’s saving purposes down through history into culmination at a single point: “the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:19–21).
How does Jesus being the Cornerstone of your life lead you to worship Him?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s video and reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
Videos produced by www.TheGospelProject.com.
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